William de Ross had, by the courtesy of England, been allowed to enjoy during his lifetime the estates of the De Canteloupes as Eustachia’s second husband, but when he died in about 1303 the properties reverted to the De Canteloupes in the direct line of succession, and so came to that Nicholas de Canteloupe, by whom the Nottinghamshire branch of that family attained their highest distinction. He was Knighted in 1326, which opened to him a career, which he could not otherwise have attained unto. Edward III. was only about 14 years old when he led an army against the Scots, who were doing great damage in Yorkshire. Our young Knight, Nicholas de Canteloupe was, as behoved him, in the King’s army, together with his retinue; but Edward III.’s army was too considerable for the Scots liking, who found that discretion is the better part of valour, and retired to their country with but little loss. A few years later Nicholas is met with on some business of the King’s in Flanders, perhaps in connection with his marriage with Philippa of Haynault, and it appears that he stood in good credit with the King, who placed much confidence in him. When Edward III. had, at last, a good opportunity to deal with Scotland, he set Balliol on that throne, and secured the cession of Berwick, the governorship of which he bestowed oii Nicholas de Canteloupe. But a few years later Nicholas is again in Flanders on the King’s business, and still later on, he is fighting in that terrible but victorious battle of Cressy, the most renowned which England until then had ever been engaged in.

It is interesting enough to have been able to follow Nicholas so far, but we have to see another side of his character. He came of a long distinguished family, some of whom had held high positions in the Church and State, and who were known for their pronounced religious tone of the type of their days, and to have been benefactors to religious houses of importance. Nicholas seems to have inherited, or to have been brought up to that tendency, somewhat spiced perhaps, with an undefined kind of religious awe and superstition, and it is no wonder that his mind run in the channel of his progenitors, and that he was thus led to imitate them in benefitting religious establishments; only he outstepped them in that direction so far, as to become not only a helper to, but the founder of a considerable Priory. He was a discreet and confidential servant of his King, and possibly a useful diplomatist, and he was a noble and brave warrior too, but he had withal his human side of a kind of speculative expectation from temporal outlays for spiritual advantages.

We read that when Jacob was fleeing from his brother Esau, and when awaking from his sleep, with a stony pillow under his head (he had had a dream), or vision of a ladder set up on earth, the top of which reached to heaven, on which the angels of God were ascending and descending, above which the Lord himself was standing, and Jacob said how dreadful is this place, this is no other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven. And Jacob vowed a vow and said: if God will be with me, and will keep me in the way that I go, and will give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on, so that I come again to my father’s house in peace, then shall the Lord be my God, and this stone, which I have set for a pillar, shall be God’s house, and of all that thou shall give me, I will surely give the tenth to thee. A feeling in some way akin to that has been and still is with many people in times of danger, or in the anticipation thereof. How many for instance like William Rufus make good and earnest resolutions in times of serious illness; only unlike warriors of Nicholas de Canteloupe’s type they afterwards forget their solemn promises. Not so the then Lord of Greasley. It was no uncommon thing for warriors on the eve of battle to vow what they would do for God’s cause, if spared from falling on the bloody field, and we must bear in mind that in Nicholas’s time, there was a generally accepted belief in works, and costly sacrifices as a means by which to secure the favour of heaven, and the prospering providence of God; besides which the assurance of papal indulgences and plenary absolutions were greatly influencing the mind of men. From what we shall find of what Nicholas did, it would seem that he must have long and frequently pondered in his ardent mind over the plans of the priory which he had resolved to found in his park of Greasley, and for which, when he had brought them to maturity, he had to apply for his King’s leave to execute his purpose. That was not always free from difficulties, because it might touch the royal exchequer, and it might besides entail loss of military service from lands which were held on that tenure, and from the King in capite. For these reasons, and to ascertain that the King would not be a loser, an inquisition was generally ordered; but Nicholas was in the good graces of the monarch, and when making his petition as a loyal Knight and noble, had his request granted him on Sept. 22nd of the 16th year of the reign of Edward III.; while two years earlier in the month of April of the 14th year of that King’s reign leave had been granted him to fortify his mansion house at Greasley, which from thenceforth became a castle. Nicholas de Canteloupe’s heart will have beaten high, when in distinction from other Barons around him he would be the Lord of a fortified castle; and being in possession of the King’s leave to proceed with the founding of his religious house, he accordingly set to work to do it in a manner worthy of his resolve. Messrs. Norman and Martin in their history of Ilkeston give the preamble together with an extract of Nicholas de Cantaloupe’s foundation Charter of the Priory of Beauvale, taken from the Register of W. Zouch, Archbishop of York, but Dugdale and Thoroton gave the Charter in extenso from the Register of Beauvale, which is to the following effect:

“Nicholas de Cantaloupe, Lord of Ilkeston in Derbyshire, &c., having obtained licence of King Edward the Third, dated 22nd September in the sixteenth year of his reign, founded a monastery in his Park of Greasley, for a Prior and twelve monks of the order of the Carthusians, to which he gave ten pounds per annum of land and rent in the towns of Greyseley and Selleston, together with the Park of Gryseley, and the advowson of the Churches of both the said towns, which he got appropriated: and this he devoutly did for the glory of Almighty God, and the increase of religion and the Divim Worship, and for the good or healthful state of the said King Edward III., and of William la Zouch, the Lord Archbishop of York, his most dear Lord and cousin, and of the Lord Henry de Lancastre, Earl of Derby, and of himself and Joane his wife, and William his son and heir, while they should live and for the souls of the said King, and of all the rest, when they should die, and for the soul of Tiphania his former wife, and for his father and mother and all his progenitors and heirs; wherefore he by special Deed, gave to God and the blessed Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Ghost, and the Prior and Monks of the Carthusian order in the Monastery called Bellavallis which he had builded for them in the said park of Gryseley, and their successors there serving God according to the Customs, order and Rule of the Mother Church of the Carthusians, the said Monastery and Park of Gryseley adjoining, and three hundred acres of land, ten messuages, twelve bovats, with the appurtances of Gryseley, which Richard le Carter, John Pygot, Robert Newbell, John le Carter, Thomas Dey, Roger Pygot, Hugh son of Agnes, John le Maisterman, Henry le Cartre, Richard Sareson, Roger Dey, Thomas de Fulwode, and Hugh de Pynkeston, his natives and villains held of him in the said Town in Villanage, together with the said Villains, their Chattels, sequel and Sects, and also three shillings rent of John Witteberwe in the Town of Selleston, and four shillings and four pence of the like yearly rent of John Arnold in the same town, also thirteen messuages and seventeen bovats and a half with their appurtenances in the said town of Selleston, which Richard le Coke, John above the Kirk, Nicholas le Schipherd, William le Tayllour, William son of Richard le Wright, Theo. le Mongh, Nicola who had been the wife of Richard le Wright, John son of Richard le Wright, Robert son of William Coke, and Thomas Cabald his natives, held in the town in Vilianage, together with those natives and all that were born of them, and their suits and Services, and also likewise the said advowsons of the Churches of the said towns of Greyseley and Selleston, with all their rights and appurtances. He also granted that the said Prior and Monks and their successors, should have common of pasture for all manner of cattle whatsoever, wheresoever they couched, or from wheresoever they came through his whole Dominion or Lordship and Demesnes of Gresly and Selleston, in all places and times where his other Freeholders had, and that they should have stone for all the work of the Church and their houses, and marie to marle their lands in all the said places, except in his Park of Kirkstall. To this Deed were witnesses, his said Cousin the Archbishop of York, Richard, Bishop of Durham, Thomas of Lincoln, Roger de Coventre and Lichfield, Henry de Lancastre, Earl of Derby, William Earl of Northampton and William Earl of Hundyngton, John de Cressy, William Dencourt, William de Grey of Sandiacre, Knights, William his own son and heir, and Nicholas son of that William, Robert Barnack, William Facumbrige and others.”

This was dated at Greyseley the 9th December, 1343, the 17th of Edward III., as was also another of his, partly to this purpose, but something shorter which had other witnesses, viz: Sir Richard de Wyleby, Robert de Strewley, William de Gray, John de Annesley, Knights, Hugh Martell, John Attecarre, William Danvers and others.